Bakassi: Indigenes Remember ICJ Judgment|
From Amby Uneze in Calabar
Exactly one year after the controversial judgment by the International Court of Justice in The Hague which ceded the control of oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula to the Republic of Cameroon, the people of the area have decided to mourn that judgment, saying "it was a spiritual thing."
"We are dressed in black today because we are mourning the judgment of the ICJ of October 10, 2002. We are asking God to intervene in our cause. It was a sort of mourning that judgment and we are about to bury it. It is a spiritual thing."
Addressing a press conference in Calabar yesterday, the paramount ruler of Bakassi, His Royal Highness Etiyin Etim Edet, reiterated that right from the outset, Bakassi people had maintained that they are part of Nigeria; adding that there was no Camerounian in Bakassi and as such "we cannot be there and allow people to take over our land."
The traditional rulker believed that the ICJ judgment was given in bad faith and that his people are not bound by that controversial judgment, adding that "what we are saying is that we don't have anything in common with them traditionally, culturally and what have you."
According to the monarch, who came with his clan heads and a crowd of youth from the area, said "this judgment, once again, brings to the fore the naked brutality by man against his fellow man and the faceless subjugation of the weak by the mighty and a systematic enslavement and extinction of innocent and defenceless people." He said it represented a blantant disregard for natural justice and dignity of the human person. He added that the people of the peninsula reserved the right to existence and would never mortgage that right.
The people of the area were of the opinion that the judgment only took addressed legal technicalities without addressing the political and human peculiarities in the area. The monarch, on behalf of the people, viewed the setting up of a joint commission between African nations as a welcome development and appealed to the commission to ensure that the entire territory of Bakassi and its people were not separated as they still see themselves as part and parcel of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
At the end of the briefing, the people declared, among other things, that they remained loyal and law-abiding citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that the people occupying the peninsula are not bound by the judgment of the ICJ and would resist attempt to seprate the people of the area and appeal to the United Nations to live up to its convenant of allowing peoples to decide where they want to belong to through a referendum and plebiscite.